GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview: Suzanne Johnson (Belle Chasse book tour) + giveaway + excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Friday, November 11, 2016

Interview: Suzanne Johnson (Belle Chasse book tour) + giveaway + excerpt

Meet Suzanne Johnson! She talks about her Sentinel of New Orlreans urban fantasy series, the meaning behind the titles, Cajun mermen, best places to eat in New Orleans, gators, trash TV and there is even a mention of vampires...

Sharon: Hello Suzanne. The 5th book in your Sentinels of New Orleans series, Belle Chasse, releases. Will you tell our followers who aren’t familiar with the series what it is about.

Suzanne: Hi, Sharon—thanks for having me here today! The Sentinels of New Orleans series is about what happens when Hurricane Katrina sets a whole series of events and power struggles in motion by tearing down the invisible borders between modern New Orleans and the preternatural world. The wizards have traditionally been in charge of maintaining the borders and keeping order, but things begin to spiral out of control until, in Belle Chasse, the final events are set in motion. The story is told from a young woman who starts out as a strong but inexperienced “Green Congress” wizard (ritual magic) who learns she also has enough elven DNA to do the elves’ magic. It makes her a target as she gradually learns throughout the series what her strengths and weaknesses are—and who she can and can’t trust. All the book titles are names of streets in New Orleans.
Sharon: Oh crap! They are all street names! *headdesk* Are the streets an important part of the plot?
Suzanne: LOL, not really, although they are related to the plot in rather obscure ways—sort of an in joke, I guess. ROYAL STREET had a lot of “New Orleans” royalty in it, with Louis Armstrong and Marie Laveau and Jean Lafitte. RIVER ROAD was set in the parish communities along the Mississippi River. ELYSIAN FIELDS, which is the mythical place of the dead, had necromancers doing all the dirty work. PIRATE’S ALLEY was, of course, Jean Lafitte beginning to step up and be a bigger player in the game. And BELLE CHASSE is “beautiful hunt” in French, and DJ is definitely being hunted!

Sharon: You also write a vampire PNR series and a romantic suspense series along with the urban fantasy series (Sentinels of New Orleans). Is there a genre you prefer or find easier/harder to write?
Suzanne: They’re surprisingly similar—at least the way I write them (all the non-urban fantasy is written under the name Susannah Sandlin). My urban fantasy has a lot of action and a little romance. My paranormal romance has about 50-50 action and romance, as does my romantic suspense. So the only real difference is the heat level (higher in PNR) and whether or not all the characters are human! I find urban fantasy easier to write because I tend to be a plot-heavy writer and urban fantasy, with its lighter degree of romance, tends to be a plot-heavy genre.

Sharon: If you had to pick one of your worlds to live in, which would it be?
Suzanne: Oh, that’s tough! Both DJ’s world and the world of my Penton Legacy vampire series are treacherous places right now. But if the Sentinels world can get its political shenanigans in order—and keep me away from the faeries (because they are nutballs)—I think it would be an interesting world. I mean, c’mon. Cajun mermen! Undead French pirates! How could I not live there?
Katie: *Katie ninja tumbles into the room* Where are they? The mermen and pirates?! *Looks at Suzanne* Tell me you brought enough to share…
Suzanne: Hahaha—Jean Lafitte and his merry band of French pirates are EVERYWHERE (but he’s living at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans—tell him I said “bonjour.” And many of the Cajuns in the commercial fishing industry in South Louisiana are secretly mermen—aquatic shapeshifters. They love food and sex, and not necessarily in that order. ;)

Sharon: Your bio says you are a displaced New Orleanian. Was it because of Katrina? What were some of your favorite places to eat in N.O. and what are the must dos for visitors?
Suzanne: I was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit—PTSD from the flooding ultimately drove me to start writing fiction—but I didn’t leave the city at that time. I went back for several years afterward to help rebuild. I finally moved for family reasons (aging parent), but keep threatening to go back when I leave my day job next spring to write full time. I still consider NOLA my hometown. Visitors should visit Mardi Gras World, which is where all the floats are kept in the off-season. It’s amazing and is one of the key sets I use in BELLE CHASSE. My favorite restaurant, bar none, is Jacques-Imo’s on Oak Street, but other favorites are Commander’s Palace in uptown, the Napoleon House on Chartres in the French Quarter, and Mandina’s in Mid-City. Now I’m hungry! The French Quarter is an amazing walk through history, but I always encourage visitors to get out into the real city—take the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue, walk around the Garden District, shop in the markets along Magazine Street. See the city where New Orleanians live and work!
Sharon: Katie and I just visited New Orleans a few weeks ago! I wish we had talked to you first. We stayed in the Garden District and rode the trolley to get around. I plan on becoming a trolley lady. I will just ride it all day and night….
Suzanne: I love the streetcars! Especially the green line that goes down thru the Garden District. When you become a Trolley Lady, beware of cars doing U-turns in front of you—we’d have at least one streetcar-on-vehicle collision every week.

Sharon: Your bio also mentions trash reality TV. What is your current obsession? And if you could be on a reality TV show which would it be…or would you create your own?
Suzanne: OMG. I recently binge-watched all twelve seasons (of six episodes each, mind you) of “The Deadliest Catch.” I could not be on that show as much as I love watching it. I’d be one of those greenhorns on the crab boats that spends the entire season barfing and whining about being sore and being ridiculed by the boat’s crew. I’d like to be a judge on “Project Runway” since I have no skills as a designer. I can be plenty snarky about the designers’ creations, though. I could create a reality show about my day job…oh, wait. That’s been done. It was called “The Office.”

Sharon: Got pics of your gator collection? Did you ever have one as a pet?
Suzanne: No, although the little ones are awfully cute. Sadly, they grow about a foot a year and once they get all those big teeth and weigh 500 pounds, they don’t worry too much about whether it’s a catfish or your arm they’re having for lunch. But pics attached!
 Sharon: Aw! How did Disco get his name?
Suzanne: He’s made of blown glass and he’s kind of shiny and has glitter on him that doesn’t show up very well in the photo, so Disco he became. He was a gift from a coworker.

Sharon: Who was your celebrity crush…did you have poster of them on you wall?
Suzanne: Oh Lord, I’ve had so many it’s hard to keep track of them. I’ve done multiple rock star phases, a pro wrestler phase, an NBA player phase…I guess now I’m on my crab boat captain phase—LOL. Never had much for movie stars, though.

Sharon: What song will make you stop what you are doing and dance and or sing along?
Suzanne: I’m a music junkie but have really, really eclectic taste. I’m looking at my song list on iTunes right now and the next one I see that always has that impact is Passenger’s “The Wrong Direction.” It’s so me. After that, I see an old song by the late, great Warren Zevon that never fails to make me sing: “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.” Gavin deGraw’s “You Make My Heart Sing Louder.” And anything by Simon Beaudreau, my current obsession.
Sharon: Do you speak French? (is that what Simon’s song are in?)
Suzanne: I read French and speak some. I listen to a lot of French-Canadian music (Simon’s just one example), and pretend it helps me understand spoken French…but not very well.

Sharon: What is your favorite smell?
Suzanne: Honeysuckle. There’s a company in New Orleans, Sweet Olive Soap Works, that makes a honeysuckle-scented cream I’d buy by the gallon if they sold it in containers that big. Thank God they ship.
Sharon: Oh! That’s a good one. Do you like to taste the nectar?
Suzanne: I’ve never tried it! I wonder if it’s as sweet as it smells? Must do research!
Sharon: O_O you've never pulled a flower off, pulled out the stamen and sucked out the nectar?! And you're from the south? *shake my head*

Sharon: Do you have a favorite meme?
Suzanne: Do not show me dog videos. I will be lost for hours. I see them on Facebook and run the other way.

Sharon: Is there such thing as too spicy?
Suzanne: For me, yes. I love jalapeno and cayenne in just about anything, but when you get to the habanero stage it’s too hot for me.

Rapid Fire: 
Sharon: East coast or west coast?
Suzanne: East Coast
Sharon: State you love to visit on the east coast?
Suzanne: I have never been north of Boston so I might change my mind when I get to do that, so for right now, I’ll say North Carolina. I love the area around Wilmington.
Sharon: I live in NC! Grew up near the beach.

Sharon: fried gator or grilled gator?
Suzanne: Grilled gator sausage

Sharon: tacos or spaghetti?
Suzanne: Tacos

Sharon: Coke or Pepsi?
Suzanne: Coke
Sharon:*pouts, kicks stuffed alligator*
Suzanne: Hahaha—I live two hours outside Atlanta—I think it’s decreed that we drink Coke :)

Sharon: Vampire strength or Vampire speed?
Suzanne: Strength

Sharon: fight a wizard or fight an elf?
Suzanne: In my Sentinels world, wizard. Elves can do scary stuff!
Sharon: *Katie whispers* I don’t think *Katie pokes Sharon in ribs* Ow! Okay…sex with a wizard or an elf?
Suzanne: Oh, an elf, hands down. They are VERY, VERY PRETTY and sexy. But just sex, mind you. No emotional entanglements because they can do scary mental stuff!

Belle Chasse (Sentinels of New Orleans Book 5)
by Suzanne Johnson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: TOR Books
November 8, 2016
ISBN: 978-0765376992
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 93,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Suzanne Johnson's "strong and intriguing" (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. The Sentinels of New Orleans series has earned starred reviews from Library Journal ("a resourceful heroine who relies on her magical ingenuity") and PW ("vivid...a lively tale jam-packed with action, magic, and intriguing plot twists").

With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.

With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.

It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.

I expected Christof to start a snowstorm above Rand’s head. What I didn’t expect was for the prince to lower his head and charge Rand like a raging bull, head-butting him in the midsection. They hit the ground, and I saw my chance at the same time Eugenie spotted me.

I motioned her toward the woods where the transport lay. To hell with the Blue Congress wizards. We were going to make a run for it while Christof kept Rand too busy to notice.

She set off for the woods, and I met her halfway. “My family thinks I’m crazy!” she wailed, loud enough to draw the attention of the tall, skinny Blue Congress wizard with the rooster haircut.

“Hey, stop!”

Holy crap. I whipped out the elven staff, paused long enough to aim just to the right of the wizards. They already had their hands up and were doing some of their nifty Blue Congress magic when I released my fire and blew up the tombstone next to them, sending a rain of marble and playing cards onto their heads. Around us, evidence of their magic appeared as tombstones began moving to block our escape route.

I grabbed Eugenie’s arm and pulled her around a marble stag the size of a small SUV. It had lowered its head and pawed the ground as if to charge. Blue Congress magic was so damned cool— create and re-create.

“Stop, DJ!” Eugenie grabbed my arm as I tried to race past her. “A sinkhole!”

I looked stupidly at the ground in front of us, which had opened a gulf big enough to drive a Greyhound bus into. “Go around and run fast,” I shouted, sending another shot of the staff toward the Blue Congress wizards and blowing up a ginormous marble eagle perched atop a nearby tomb.

We didn’t stop to see if the stag was chasing us, but ran for all we were worth. Finally, at the edge of the tree line, I hazarded a look back at Christof and Rand. The faery stood watching us; the elf had crumpled on the ground. Not dead, though, because in my head, far behind my protective barriers, I heard him yelling my name.

Christof grinned and motioned for us to move along. He didn’t have to motion twice, because the wizards were chasing us, still chanting and doing their finger dance. The stag was getting way too close.

I raised the staff and blew a hole in the earth in front of the advancing stag, forcing him to change direction. Luck was on our side for a change— the stag began charging toward the wizards instead, who had to stop pursuing us in order to protect themselves from being trampled beneath marble hooves.

“Let’s run to the transport before those idiot wizards can get out from under the stag.” I grabbed Eugenie’s hand and we ran to the clearing. “Help me roll this werewolf out of the transport.”

To her credit, she didn’t ask a single question. We tipped the werewolf onto his side and rolled him outside the interlocking circle and triangle, leaving him at an awkward angle with his feet in the air. Oh well.

I touched the staff to the edge of the transport and said, “Winter Palace, Faery” just before the Blue Congress wizards reached the edge of the clearing. I waved at them as the transport sucked the air out of my lungs. They were too late.

As soon as we materialized on the round floor of ice in the Winter Palace, Eugenie screamed. I figured she was getting her first look at the grisly remains of Faerie Princess Tamara until a blinding light knocked me off my feet and a big crack appeared in the ice between us.

“Where is my brother?”

I whirled to see Florian sitting on a block of ice behind us bundled in a heavy coat, a blanket spread beneath him, no doubt to protect his royal assets from getting cold and wet.

“He’s in Shreveport, Louisiana, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, having a fi stfi ght with an elf,” I said, pretty confident that of all the things he might expect me to say, that wasn’t it.

About the Author: 

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series but perhaps is best known for her romantic suspense and paranormal romance books written as Susannah Sandlin, including the Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, the Wilds of the Bayou suspense series, and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Her awards include two Holt Medallions in 2013 and 2015, a 2015 Booksellers Best Award in romantic suspense, and nominations in 2014 and 2015 for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Suzanne loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

Tour giveaway 
1 $50 Amazon gift card 
5 $10 Amazon gift cards

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  1. A very interesting interview with Suzanne, thanks. Belle Chasse is a great addition to the Sentinels of New Orleans series. Exciting, fast paced, action packed. Watch out for the Fae, they are crazy. I recommend it when ever I can. More to come. A war is coming.

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  3. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  4. Suzanne, I am disappointed you have never sucked the nectar from honeysuckle! It was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. I do love the smell, I'll have to check out that honeysuckle cream.

  5. I can't believe I didn't know to do this! (And that body cream is to die for!)

  6. I look forward to reading this one.

  7. Great interview! But I'd pick Jean over an elf. Rene is a close second! Looking forward to the next book.

  8. What world could you possibly prefer to live in but New Orleans?

  9. I really enjoy the Sentinels of New Orleans series and I'm looking forward to reading this latest book. Actually, I've enjoyed everything I've read by either pen name, I just finished reading Black Diamond. :D

  10. Loved the interview. And I agree with you on the elves